CNS headlined this brief piece on the Irish Christian Brothers. I have some history with the order, having attended a high school that was half-run (the boys’ side) by them.
My subjective experience there was pretty straightforward. I thought two of my teachers from the order were outstanding: a fill-in for a quickly-departed brother midway through my freshman year, and my physics teacher senior year. Otherwise, it was an open secret among students that the ICB faculty was rife with scandal and incompetence. It was an open joke that faculty had at least two affairs with girl students on the other side of the building. I recall two or three teachers being outright weird–people to be avoided. In grade 12 religion once we had an interesting exercise. The teacher divided us up into groups of five or six, and wrote the word “penis” on the blackboard. Each group had one class period to surface the most synonyms. For the group with most synonyms, a box of candy bars was awarded. This was repeated the next day for a word of the female anatomy.
On the plus side, they did assemble a good-to-great faculty of lay people–about half my teachers overall. One teacher shared with us his salary: $8100. Not much for 1973. But he was a dedicated educator, teaching both ninth grade history and a few senior electives.
Brother Philip Pinto told Catholic News Service May 7 that the congregation, which has 1,200 members, “just doesn’t have the money any longer.”
He said that the order’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection in New York April 28 was aimed at “trying to ensure that people who have been abused are the ones who get the money, not the lawyers,” he said during a break in a conference on religious life sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland.
Forty percent of the costs relating to abuse settlements were “going to the lawyers,” he said.
One-third is about right from I hear from people who hire lawyers to sue. A heck of a lot more than $8100, adjusted for inflation. If you want 100% of your settlement money to go to victims, you have to offer it before the legal system gets a grip on the situation.
Another conference speaker, Nuala O’Loan, former police ombudsman in Northern Ireland … criticized “successive Irish governments” who “allowed the children under their care to be deprived of their safety and security and permitted children to be held in institutions in which terrible things happened.”
Discerning readers should have a nose for sniffing out the blame game. Ms O’Loan’s comment needs a context, to be sure. But I sure hope it’s not something along the lines of “They should have known better leaving kids in the care of predators.”
So what do you readers think? Edmund Rice’s order dead in the water? If so, is that a bad thing?